Should you visit Hong Kong or Thailand?Hong Kong is significantly more expensive than Thailand for tourists, even though the demand for tourism in Thailand is very high. If you're deciding between the two countries, keep in mind that price isn't everything, however.
Hong Kong is an interesting mix of old and new. While it has its own government, it is also looked over by the mainland Chinese government. This means that, as far as tourism goes, you can visit China while not really visiting China. So, Hong Kong is a good opportunity to experience the Chinese culture mixed in with a high-tech, modern city full of culture and history. And to add to that, many people visit Hong Kong just for the food alone!
Thailand is the most popular country to visit in Southeast Asia, and its economic dependence on tourism can be felt in even the smallest and most remote parts of the country. The beauty of Thailand is quite evident, and the diversity of landscapes, combined with the generally friendly nature of its people lead to a huge number of tourists every year. But all of these visitors can drive prices up a bit. Bartering is a must in Thailand where the tourist prices are dramatically higher than local prices.
When is the best time to visit Hong Kong and Thailand?
The high season for travel in Thailand is between November and February, although visitors come all year. The seasons are caused by monsoon winds more than temperature changes, though. In the north, the dry season is between November and May. The southern coasts stay relatively dry during this time as well. Due to a change in weather patterns, the east and west coasts receive rainfall at different times of the year. The wettest time on the western coast is usually between April and October, while the east coast experiences more rain between September and December.
Why is Hong Kong more expensive than Thailand?Being a very modern city in a compact geographical area, Hong Kong has a high cost of living, high real estate prices, and a large population density. This leads to an overall increase in prices for everything from food to hotels to activities. As much of the food and other goods are imported from mainland China or around the world, prices become higher. Modern conveniences and luxuries are everywhere, but visitors have to pay more for them than in nearby China.
Despite being one of the most visited destinations in Southeast Asia, Thailand's overall economy is based on tourism and agriculture instead of higher-end services or manufacturing. Because of this, travelers benefit from the overall lower cost of living leading to less expensive travel prices.
Budget accommodation in Thailand is everywhere, and the food is cheap, too. Activities are also affordable due to the generally lower wages across the nation.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in Hong Kong and Thailand?
Kowloon, just over the bay to the north, is somewhat cheaper. Here you can find less expensive accommodation options and hostels, as well as more locally owned and inexpensive restaurants and shops.
Further away from the central downtown area, such as the neighborhoods to the east and west of downtown, are a little cheaper. Leaving the main island of Hong Kong will save you even more money, so head further north of Kowloon, or to the western island of Lantau near the airport. The area around the Disney attractions will have higher prices, though.
As a general rule in Thailand, the more touristy a destination, the more expensive it is. Southern Thailand is more expensive than northern Thailand with some of the most expensive areas being the islands of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan. The time of year can also dramatically effect cost. During the Full Moon Party, prices in Koh Phangan can climb, but expenses are more reasonable during slower times.
Visitors to the larger cities can experience a mix of prices. With a more diverse range of options, travelers to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and other urban areas can find both cheap and expensive accommodation and food options.
In the countryside of northern Thailand, prices tend to be cheap. Smaller towns in the north wish to attract visitors and lower their prices accordingly. However, sometimes transportation can get pricey.
How you can save money when visiting Hong Kong and Thailand?Eat at small, locally owned restaurants in Hong Kong. Not only is the food amazing, but the prices are, too!
The public transportation in Hong Kong is fabulous, but taxis can be expensive. Take public transportation whenever possible.
Be careful about where you shop, as many of the high-end malls can have cheaper imported goods from the mainland, but at higher prices. The same goods can often be found elsewhere for less.
In Hong Kong, look for small hotels or hostels online. Many accommodation options might take up a single floor of a larger building, and can be hard to find from the street. Hunt them down virtually or physically to save cash.
Negotiate hard! This is particularly true in Thailand. Negotiating in Hong Kong can help sometimes with accommodation and in the markets as well.
Go off the beaten path. Prices in touristy areas tend to be the highest.
Travel with the locals. Find local transportation (the government buses) whenever possible and avoid paying a premium for tourist or "VIP" buses. Often, the government bus station will be in the center of town or separated from the tourist areas.
Slow down. If you're rushing through the area you're going to spend more money. Transportation costs can be somewhat expensive, so the more places you visit, the more money you're going to spend.
Plan your trip schedule carefully. Festivals are fun but expensive. If going to the Full Moon Party isn't your priority, avoid the island areas during these times. Also look at the holiday schedule to see when locals are on vacation.